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By Stephen Wigler | July 25, 1996
The Swiss conductor Mario Venzago is conducting the lion's share of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Summer MusicFest concerts, and his program in Meyerhoff Hall tomorrow is particularly lovely.The concert will begin with Mozart's Wind Serenade No. 11 and will continue with Schubert's evergreen Symphony No. 5. After intermission, Venzago and the orchestra will be joined by soloist Misha Dichter in the most magisterial of all concertos, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (the "Emperor").The concert tomorrow is at 7: 30 p.m. in Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. There will be pre-concert chamber music at 6: 30 p.m. and post-concert dancing with Bruce Ewan and the Soul Senders.
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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 10, 2006
After a bumpy - make that rainy and muddy - start to its outdoor concert season at Oregon Ridge early last week, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra opened its indoor Summer MusicFest in the safety of Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Friday night. The program, also presented the night before at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, was billed as "The Best of Baroque." It was nothing of the kind. Not an unadulterated note of Bach or Handel or Vivaldi to be found. Better to have called it "The Best of Big Band Baroque," since most of the concert held full-orchestra, larger-than-life transcriptions of music originally written for smaller forces.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 11, 2002
Now that the thermometer is registering heavy-duty summer, it's a good time to start thinking about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Summer MusicFest at Meyerhoff Hall. This year's festival, the third under the artistic direction of Mario Venzago, is a little trimmer -- down to four concerts from five the past two years. But it still promises lots of action, not all of it onstage. Venzago has chosen some colorful works to get the MusicFest under way on June 28 -- Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 4, Ravel's Alborada del gracioso and Respighi's frolicsome La boutique fantasque based on melodies by Rossini.
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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 4, 2006
Some places are hotbeds of orchestral activity during the sticky months. A couple of obvious examples: Wolf Trap in Virginia, where the National Symphony makes its summer home; and Tanglewood in Massachusetts, where the Boston Symphony maintains an exceptionally busy schedule for July and August. Baltimore is somewhat less fortunate when it comes to warm-season options. The Baltimore Symphony's outdoor venue, Oregon Ridge, is a bit primitive and easily threatened by weather. (At Wolf Trap and Tanglewood, the show can go on when it rains, since the stage and much of the seating area is under cover.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 11, 1997
Although Pinchas Zukerman became artistic director of the Baltimore Symphony's Summer MusicFest last year, this season's programs are the first designed entirely by the renowned violinist-violist-conductor. If last night's concert, the first of the festival, is any indication, we can look forward to two weeks of terrific music-making.Zukerman's biggest innovation is an enormous expansion of Summer MusicFest's chamber music offerings. The 8 p.m. symphonic concert was preceded at 6: 45 -- as it will be throughout Summer MusicFest -- by a substantial chamber music program.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 10, 2000
"Oh, give me the free 'n' easy waltz that is Viennesey," goes the Ira Gershwin lyric. "When I want a melody lilting through the house, then I want a melody by Strauss." That, more or less, was the attitude Friday evening as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra continued its Summer MusicFest with "A Night in Old Vienna." Melodies by Strauss - mostly Johann Jr. - lilted through Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, along with a few equally memorable tunes by other composers, not all "Viennesey." Pulling everything together into one neat, entertaining package was MusicFest conductor Mario Venzago.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 1, 2002
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's annual Summer MusicFest opened a rhapsodic flair. Artistic director Mario Venzago fashioned the roughly 80-minute, intermission-less program out of rhapsodies, literal and figurative; guest pianist Lang Lang produced some extravagantly rapturous playing. If the experience Friday night at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall could have been a little more filling, it certainly worked as a lighthearted tone-setter for the festival (which resumes July 12). The concert offered opportunities to drink in colorful sounds and dancing rhythms, complementing all the frolicking outside the theater before and after.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 25, 2001
The key word to the second, highly satisfying program in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Summer MusicFest was "elegance." Conductor Mario Venzago filled the first half of Friday's concert at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with the epitome of musical elegance, Mozart, and the second with works by two supremely elegant Frenchmen, Debussy and Ravel. Even the pre-concert chamber music by Schubert and Jean Francaix maintained this theme of refined beauty of expression (as well as the juxtaposition of Austrian and French composers)
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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 4, 2006
Some places are hotbeds of orchestral activity during the sticky months. A couple of obvious examples: Wolf Trap in Virginia, where the National Symphony makes its summer home; and Tanglewood in Massachusetts, where the Boston Symphony maintains an exceptionally busy schedule for July and August. Baltimore is somewhat less fortunate when it comes to warm-season options. The Baltimore Symphony's outdoor venue, Oregon Ridge, is a bit primitive and easily threatened by weather. (At Wolf Trap and Tanglewood, the show can go on when it rains, since the stage and much of the seating area is under cover.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 15, 2002
After another week of dismal news about human misbehavior, the admonition of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony seemed doubly welcome Friday night: "No more of those sounds. Let us sing more cheerful songs." These words, and the rest of the "Ode to Joy," reverberated mightily in a packed Meyerhoff Hall for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Summer MusicFest. The Ninth Symphony, rightly or wrongly, continues to inspire reactions that go beyond the purely musical. It's a symphony that forcibly declares an intention to be about something, and it doesn't take much imagination to hear it as a noble and ennobling utterance.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 30, 2003
If Marin Alsop ever wanted to give up conducting, she could jump right into stand-up comedy. Putting her dry wit and fast-paced delivery style to good use at the opening of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's annual Summer MusicFest at Meyerhoff Hall, she warmed up the audience with abbreviated synopses of the stories that inspired some of the works on the program. More impressive than those monologues, however, were the musical results she achieved. Alsop, principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony in England (the first woman to hold such a post with a top orchestra in that country)
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 15, 2002
After another week of dismal news about human misbehavior, the admonition of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony seemed doubly welcome Friday night: "No more of those sounds. Let us sing more cheerful songs." These words, and the rest of the "Ode to Joy," reverberated mightily in a packed Meyerhoff Hall for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Summer MusicFest. The Ninth Symphony, rightly or wrongly, continues to inspire reactions that go beyond the purely musical. It's a symphony that forcibly declares an intention to be about something, and it doesn't take much imagination to hear it as a noble and ennobling utterance.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 1, 2002
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's annual Summer MusicFest opened a rhapsodic flair. Artistic director Mario Venzago fashioned the roughly 80-minute, intermission-less program out of rhapsodies, literal and figurative; guest pianist Lang Lang produced some extravagantly rapturous playing. If the experience Friday night at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall could have been a little more filling, it certainly worked as a lighthearted tone-setter for the festival (which resumes July 12). The concert offered opportunities to drink in colorful sounds and dancing rhythms, complementing all the frolicking outside the theater before and after.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 11, 2002
Now that the thermometer is registering heavy-duty summer, it's a good time to start thinking about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Summer MusicFest at Meyerhoff Hall. This year's festival, the third under the artistic direction of Mario Venzago, is a little trimmer -- down to four concerts from five the past two years. But it still promises lots of action, not all of it onstage. Venzago has chosen some colorful works to get the MusicFest under way on June 28 -- Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 4, Ravel's Alborada del gracioso and Respighi's frolicsome La boutique fantasque based on melodies by Rossini.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 9, 2001
The heartiest ovation at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Friday evening was reserved for Mario Venzago, the Swiss conductor who wrapped up his second season as artistic director of Summer MusicFest with another typically enthusiastic presentation of another typically imaginative program. His musical gifts and personal charm have understandably earned him a strong following. Venzago's approach to this annual festival by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra combines substantive repertoire and entertainment value in roughly equal proportions.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 29, 2001
To paraphrase Noel Coward, it's strange how potent light music can be. Meyerhoff Symphony Hall was awash with this powerful stuff Wednesday for the annual Summer MusicFest presentation "A Night in Old Vienna." In its own way, a waltz by Johann Strauss Jr. is as perfect as a fugue by Bach, a minuet by Mozart. It's no wonder that Brahms, asked for an autograph, once jotted down the opening notes of "On the Beautiful Blue Danube," then wrote underneath: "Unfortunately, not by Johannes Brahms."
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | April 27, 1999
In a mailing to subscribers today, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announces details of its Summer MusicFest programs in Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and its outdoor concerts at Oregon Ridge Park.Summer MusicFest, the BSO's five-concert series at the Meyerhoff, begins June 16 with the festival's artistic director, renowned violinist-conductor Pinchas Zukerman, as soloist and conductor in Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."Joining Zukerman in four programs, featuring chamber and orchestral works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, will be such well-known soloists as pianist Jon Kimura Parker and cellist Gary Hoffman, as well as soloists from the ranks of the orchestra.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | July 14, 2000
The devil, in various guises, cavorted through the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Summer MusicFest program Wednesday evening at Meyerhoff Hall, providing a helluva good time. There was Mephistopheles, stirring up hormones in Liszt's Mephisto Waltz. And Paganini, the violinist/composer whose ability to zip through fiendishly difficult music had people convinced he had sold his soul to Beelzebub. And Till Eulenspiegel, the devilish prankster from the Middle Ages immortalized in a Richard Strauss tone poem.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 25, 2001
The key word to the second, highly satisfying program in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Summer MusicFest was "elegance." Conductor Mario Venzago filled the first half of Friday's concert at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with the epitome of musical elegance, Mozart, and the second with works by two supremely elegant Frenchmen, Debussy and Ravel. Even the pre-concert chamber music by Schubert and Jean Francaix maintained this theme of refined beauty of expression (as well as the juxtaposition of Austrian and French composers)
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 22, 2001
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has plunged directly from its demanding regular concert season into its annual Summer MusicFest with hardly a breath in between. Wednesday's opener at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall found the players none the worse for wear, and festival artistic director Mario Venzago very much in the mood to make engaging music. Typically, festivals begin on a rousing note. The Swiss-born Venzago took delight in telling the audience - after first offering his now-traditional apology for his English - that this festival was beginning with a "piano."
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